Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Another day of torture... I mean training

Today was day two of my Boot Camp training. As someone who is easily amused, I am equally easily bored. After slogging away at the gym on cardio machines and free weights for years, I had hit a major burnout in my exercise routine. I dug out some old fitness DVDs I have. They're fine for once in awhile. But I can only hear the same tired jokes so many times before I can't stand it.

Recently, I started working out with kettlebells, and they're great. But I'm not always able to motivate myself enough to really see results. I tried a DVD and an MP3 download. Both are good, but I run into the same problem as other fitness videos -- they are the same every time you do them.

Boot Camp offers motivation -- in the form of Joe, our "drill sergeant" -- variety, camaraderie and fun. Yes, I said fun. "Our bodies want to have fun*," Joe says.

And for all the jokes about it being torture, this workout really is fun. Think about it. Would you rather:
  • Spend 30 minutes running on a treadmill or spend 30 minutes running around the yard with your kids (or spouse or dog)?
  • Spend 30 minutes "climbing" a StairMaster or spend an afternoon climbing an actual mountain?
  • Go to the gym or go out dancing?
  • Workout alone in your living room (or a gym) or workout with a great group of women in a sunny park?
I think it's safe to say most of us would chose the second option in each of those scenarios. Exercise doesn't have to feel like a chore. This Boot Camp isn't easy -- but neither are chasing kids or climbing a mountain -- but it is fun and it can make those other activities easier. Because working out really should prepare us for real life challenges.

A great added benefit to working out at 7 a.m. (there are even earlier classes!) is how much more I accomplish throughout my day.

*I wanted to include Cyndi Lauper here, but I can't embed the video. Go here to enjoy:

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Oh deer!

Today, I had an interview at Mount St. Francis. Tucked away in the foothills, it must make the deer feel safe there. St. Francis is the patron saint of animals, after all.

This photo was taken through the windshield of my car, but only because it was starting to rain. I was able to walk pretty close to them before pulling out the camera. There were more of them off to the right, out of frame.

Deer are a common occurrence here. But I still think it's cool to see them and to get so close.

On a -- somewhat -- related note, I saw a fox jump to the top of 6-foot fence, not far from where this picture was taken. I guess they're more cat-like than I realized. I wish I'd had time to get a picture of that.

I poach halibut

No. Not in the illegal-hunting way, in the basically-boiling-fish-in-wine sort of way. And even though that sounds kind of disgusting, it was actually very tasty. I impressed myself with how yummy this dish was.

Once again, it's a recipe from Real Simple: Meals Made Easy. I'm waiting for my personal copy to arrive from Amazon. So far, I've manage to keep the library's copy neat and clean, despite the fact that I am so in love with this cookbook I want to marry it and have little half-human/half-cookbook babies with it.

The recipe is quite simple: halibut, white wine, chive, salt, pepper, with boiled red potatoes and green beans on the side (although I could make a full meal out of just the fresh green beans and red potatoes in a heartbeat).

Once you have the potatoes boiling away, you start heating the fish and wine to a simmer. I used a Pinot Grigio, because it's what we had on hand. (It's called Birdman and it has a screw top. Gasp! Cool label though, right?)

Once the potatoes are "fork tender," you add the beans to the water. I don't normally boil beans, but the recipe called for it, and it saves washing another pan.

If you want the exact recipe, I can type it up for you. But as I said, it really is easy. And comes out making the cook -- me! -- look like an expert. Thanks Meals Made Easy!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Do you maggots understand that?

My dear friend Kate invited me to join her this week at the fitness boot camp ( she attends. She's been going for a while now and loves it. So I thought what the heck. I work out. I can handle it.

The alarm went off at 6:10 a.m. yesterday morning, and I popped out of bed, ready to face this Joe character I'd been hearing about. With spring here, Joe plans to conduct these sessions outside at a park. But the morning was foggy and 40 degrees, so we worked out in a gym. But this isn't your typical gym. There are no cardio machines or namby pamby free weights here.

Joe smiled at me and introduced himself as if he were a kind soul. Hidden beneath that friendly exterior is the heart of a drill sergeant. We started out with a pretty simple warm up, then moved on to exercises with a partner. From there we did two rounds of the circuit -- which was set up to look a bit like a torture chamber, with resistance bands, medicine balls, a stability ball, kettlebell and more.

Ok, I'm exaggerating. It only looked like torture because I hadn't had my coffee yet. It is funny, though, how long 45 seconds can seem. This morning, I can really feel it in my ab muscles.

When I thought my recent Kettlebell workouts were tough, I had yet to meet this man. Now, this isn't to scare you away. Because he's tough but he's motivating. I don't think he'd make the entire group drop and give him 50 if I had pooped out halfway through a set of crunches or squats, but I wasn't going to test him.

So I pushed myself and made it through the circuit twice, just like the other people in the group. I have a bit of a competitive side, and if those other women can do it, so can I, dammit! It didn't matter to me that they'd been doing it longer or that some of them were younger than I am. I was not about to be the one who quit. And I'm not positive there wouldn't have been push-ups to do latrines to clean if I'd wimped out.